Counterrealism and Indo-Anglian Fiction

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, May 21, 2002 - Literary Criticism - 213 pages

What do R.K. Narayan, G.V. Desani, Anita Desai, Zulfikar Ghose, Suniti Namjoshi, and Salman Rushdie have in common?

They represent Indian writing in English over five decades. Vilified by many cultural nationalists for not writing in native languages, they nonetheless present a critique of the historical and cultural conditions that promoted and sustained writing in English. They also have in common a counterrealist aesthetic that asks its own social, political, and textual questions.

This book is about the need to look at the tradition of Indian writing in English from the perspective of counterrealism. The departure from the conventions of mimetic writing not only challenges the limits of realism but also enables Indo-Anglian authors to access formative areas of colonial experience.

Kanaganayakam analyzes the fiction of writers who work in this vibrant Indo-Anglian tradition and demonstrates patterns of continuity and change during the last five decades. Each chapter draws attention to what is distinctive about the artifice in each author while pointing to the features that connect them. The book concludes with a study of contemporary writing and its commitment to non-mimetic forms.



1 Counterrealism as Alternative Literary History
2 The Fabulator of Malgudi
3 H Hatterr and Sauce Anglaise
4 Slipper Dragging and the Silent Piano
5 The Art of Enchantment
6 Fashioning New Fables
7 Fabulating the Real
8 Midnights Grandchildren

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Page 11 - Nationalism denied the alleged inferiority of the colonized people; it also asserted that a backward nation could "modernize" itself while retaining its cultural identity. It thus produced a discourse in which, even as it challenged the colonial claim to political domination, it also accepted the very intellectual premises of "modernity" on which colonial domination was based.

About the author (2002)

Chelva Kanaganayakam is currently an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Toronto. His publications include Structures of Negation: The Writings of Zulfikar Ghose (1993); Configurations of Exile: South Asian Writers and Their World (1995) and Dark Antonyms and Paradise: The Poetry of Rienzi Crusz (1997).

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